20150126

Project Hefeweizen Bottled

We are pretty excited to have finished making our first batch of beer. The alcohol content came out to 4.3% which is kinda of Utah, but pretty close to the mark. 

20150122

Beer Progress

Beer Progress

Racked the beer just to clear it up a little. This Hefeweizen is looking good and ready to be bottled. It was a surprise to me how fast and easy it is to brew beer. We have only done wine and mead in the past.

20150115

Perfectly Imperfect Pillows




I love sitting on the floor and snooching up to a big table. Often I work all day around the living coffee table. Pillows are key to floor comfort and best in a variety of shapes or sizes. Some pillows are ideal for getting your bum off the ground, think yoga, a tilted pelvis, long spine, crossed legs - ideally Buddhist style meditation cushion which is firm and at least 6" high. Long overstuffed pillows are great for lifting the knees and thighs off the ground, or for lumbar breaks. Other cushions act as wedges between bone and hard surfaces like table legs. Of course it is critically important that all the pillows fit perfectly under the coffee table. Viola!

My endless need for pillows fits well with my need for a palette cleanser between projects. Today for example... I ran 6 miles, did some web research for a conference call, had the conference call, and the day was young but much of my mental energy had been spent. These are the ideal conditions for sewing pillows! After sewing it is as though someone has shaken an etch-a-sketch in my mind and I am ready to start something new.

The great thing about making your own pillows is the matching that comes out of it. I'm a hack at sewing and my pillows always show flaws, but they match. And they don't just match one another, they match the curtains too. Here's a view of my sitting pit and all the pillows I've made so far. Today's additions are the buddhist style round pillow (the middle fabric is not so round, whoops!) and the couch pillow - a cover that I made from a lovely piece of loomed fabric that I believe is Native American which I got at a yard sale. It now covers a yummy, big, square down pillow. Oh yeah, you gotta have a few down filled pillows. Unlike the rest these always contort to what you need them to do, ideally they're for head resting and best placed on the couch. So there you have it, I think way too much about pillows. Thank goodness!

20150106

Resolutions for 2015

I have been thinking about, and talking with friends about new year resolutions. I don't always make them but this year it felt right to do so. I made three that are inner wishes, things that I believe that I have direct control over, and one that may seem outside of me, but having contemplated it a bit I realize that I may have more 'control' than I had originally imagined.

Inner Resolutions
1) To learn what needs to change about my behavior (and then change it) so that I won't feel taken for granted

2) To focus on the positive attributes of others (rather than feeling frustration over their weaknesses). To remember that another person is just me in different circumstances.

3) To run 50 miles

The fourth, which may seem out of my control is,
4) To see white collar crime prosecuted

Oddly, shortly after making this resolution, today it was announced that former VA gov is being sentenced to two years in jail for illegal behavior. So why is this on my resolution list if I don't have direct control over it? The answer is so that I will look for every opportunity that comes my way to do what I can do given my limitations. It starts with this post. I can be a squeaky wheel by blogging, and posting news clips to Twitter and Facebook. Also, I chose only one "world issue," because I feel that it gives me the greatest chance of success. If I had a long laundry list of things I wished to see changed I might get nothing done about any of them. But by choosing one, I think I can have a little bit of an impact. We'll see. What I have already noticed is that by choosing something outside of my inner world, I have already realized that I have more power than I had originally thought.

What one outside (of yourself) issue would you choose to stand for in 2015? How would it look to stand for it?

- Wendy


20150104

New Mexico Sweet - Honey Roasted Radish

I've been thumbing through a new cookbook by Storey Pubishing called Dishing Up New Mexico. They other day I tried a recipe for a grape salad. Mikey and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tonight I followed a recipe for Honey Roasted Radish. I never baked radish before. There is little that can go wrong with this recipe which features honey, red wine vinegar, and some simple spices. It requires a little steaming and a little baking. The radish, once cooked, had no hint of the springy stingy taste that raw radishes have. It had been nicely rounded out by the sugar. All in all it was an excellent match with mahi mahi, pan steamed radish tops with garlic, and salad.

Lets Just Call These Trash Bin Macaroons


The other day I posted a new use for almond pulp, the waste product from making almond milk that I used to make dehydrated raw macaroons. Today I modified the recipe in an effort to take the kitchen trash concept further. Instead of using raw coconut, I used coconut mash, also a left over but  from making coconut milk. Ordinarily I'd throw this away just like the almond pulp. Two these two waste materials I simply added about 1/2 cup of maple syrup. They take about four hours to dry out in a standard dehydrator on 115 degrees.

There is a noticeable compromise to texture and taste in this version of the recipe. The "used" coconut pulp has reduced sweetness and made the texture is a bit fiber heavy, but it's still quite tasty and well you can't debate that it is an excellent salvage of materials.

Hydration Food - Chia Pudding

In the world of ultra running many athletes eat GUs, tiny packets of jelly like goo carefully designed to provide all sorts of things that runners need like nutrition, fat, sugar, caffeine, and electrolytes. I tried a couple of them. I'm not a fan. They remind me of bags of chips from the grocery store. Even if they're not made from crappy ingredients, they are often processed enough that they feel and taste weird.  Some are very high in sugar.

Mikey and I have the time to experiment so I've been searching for running foods that meet our needs which are mostly: calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Today I messed around with chia seeds and my homemade almond milk and came up with this delicious pudding. I combined chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla seeds that I had left over from making a batch of vanilla extract, salt and a tiny bit of maple syrup. Since we're eating it at home I topped it off with blueberries and a sprinkle of flax. If I were taking this out on a run I'd blend the fruit with the almond milk and I might leave out the flax. I think that a pinch of cardamom would be great in this too. Then I'd seal it with our vacuum sealer so that I can rip it open about an hour into my run and suck out the contents. I'm going to continue to experiment with chia because it helps one stay hydrated in the desert. The best part is, this is supper yummy. It reminds me of a black rice pudding desert that I go crazy over.

20150102

Self Improvement Results for 2014

On New Years Eve 2013 I posted a self improvement plan for 2014. Below is a summary of my 2013 vs 2014 actual self improvement data.

Prediction - I will double my yearly running mileage. Close...

2013 total miles - I ran 655 miles
2014 total miles - I ran 1,080 miles

2014distance

I did manage to increase the elevation I run in a significant way.

2013 elevation gain - 7,640' 
2014 elevation gain - 18,897'

2014elevation

Prediction - I will double the amount of books I read.

2013 - I read 57 books
2014 - I read 62 books

2014books

Prediction: I will produce two kits.

2014 - Only the DP2 Battery charger came out this year.

Da Pimp 2 [DP2] Battery Charger Now Shipping

I also swam 97 miles.

2015 predictions:
  • running total mileage: 1,500 miles (4 miles a day)
  • running total ascent: 50,000' (33' per mile)
  • swimming total miles: 200 (.5 miles a day)
  • total books: 104 (2 a week)
  • new kits: 3




20141228

Dishing Up New Mexico

New Mexican's have a palette all their own. Hot and sweet, seasonal, and local, NM dishes are almost always laced with green chili, or topped with chipotle. When the heat creeps something sweet is there to cool things down, honey or perhaps something made of prickly pear. We have peppers in unmatched variety, though we're most known the green chili that comes out of Hatch. The real question is how to use the colorful and oddly shaped and sized variety of nightshades.

Tonight I tried the first of several recipes that I have earmarked in Storey Publishing's book titled Dishing Up New Mexico by Dave Dewitt.

The recipe I made is a fresh grape salsa. It was an excellent side dish to a horseradish heavy lentil and black bean burger that I regularly make. The salsa toned down the spice of the burgers. I always go wild with horseradish and find myself with watery eyes and at times banging on the table in anxiety as I wait for the burn the pass. When it does I go right back for another torturous bite. The salsa  took the place of the table banging. I was surprised at how mildly sweet the grape salsa was.  In spite the fact that grapes are the main ingredient, the dish bordered on savory. The salt, pepper, jalapino, and red onion balanced it. It was delicious and simple.

One of the best features of this book is the list of resources provided for finding some of the ingredients. As a local I can actually go to the farmers markets and farms mentioned in the book. Perhaps the most important ingredient that you'll find in New Mexican cooking is green chili (preferably from Hatch, NM) which lucky for you can be mail ordered. Even when I lived in New York City restaurants boasted that they served Hatch green chili.

I have plans to cook a few more dishes from Dishing Up New Mexico, including the cucumber and chili pepper popsicles, honey roasted radishes, blistering baked squash with Blueberries, herb and chili roasted lamb, and chickpea and chorizo stew. More as it comes....

Best Vegan Almond Macaroons (Made From Waste)

If you make home made almond milk than you know about the waste product at the end that sure does not seem like it should be garbage! Yes, the almond slurry that's left over after straining the milk. I've been wondering what to do with it for years. Mikey has tried making hummus out of it and I've made dehydrated oat crackers. Both were OK, but not super great.

Yesterday I hit the jackpot with macaroons. They're so delicious that we were eating them while they were still in the dehydrator. Here's the recipe.

Almond slurry left over from making almond milk (usually about 1 cup to 1 cup and a half)
3/4 cup of coconut
1/2 cup maple syrup

Mix, roll into cookie shapes, dehydrate in dehydrator at 115 for about 6 hours. Viola!

20141227

Trust

I sat down tonight to express my delight about having a chapter in the new book by Make titled Maker Pro: Essays on Making a Living as a Maker. I meant to write a review of the book. But I got to thinking about being employed and what what is wrapped up it. I got carried away. So here’s a ditty on employment that I guess I just had to write.

It is a great time for people to break free from the things that bind them, especially employment which has never been about individual creative self-expression. Too often our work has us conforming to a wish or goal that is not our own. When this happens too much our labor produces a world that does not support our collective lives. This is happening today. Hidden in the employment dynamic, I think, is a lack of trust that is causing all sorts of havoc and heartbreak. Our desperate drive towards employing everyone, and likewise the negative connotations around being unemployed, suggest to me that we think we are better off working for someone else than we are being free, in other words we don't trust ourselves.

Since the 2008 crash politicians have been bragging about how many jobs they are going to create. It drives me totally crazy. They even tout actual numbers. Create jobs,” has become an American slogan. Is it really better if everyone has one? What do we believe a job is anyway? People should be engaged with the world, connected through interest yes. But this is different than having a job. I think that we’ve been trained to fear our freedom. We fear the mischief that we may make. Without a job we may become criminals, make harm to others and ourselves. We’ll go crazy. Sounds silly when you say it doesn't it? Especially when we know that making things, problem solving, and creating is human nature. It is our nature to contribute too, to share. We all want to be part of the whole, to fit in. This has been well documented by science. Humans are conformists.

What we should fear is people having nothing to eat. Employing people under our current system does not prevent, but rather assures that some will starve. Globalization pillages the bounty of some for the comfort of others while destroying life preserving systems and resources in the process. Logically when people are denied what is most basic to happiness - things like food, shelter, quality of life, natural resources, and freedom of self-expression - things get gnarly. If we want to be sure that everyone has got enough to eat we might find it easier to assure if we get rid of employment all together. Left to our own devices we are farmers, weavers, electronic geeks, woodworkers, mothers, drivers, writers, kite makers, and the like. We are natural sharers and caretakers too. We collectivize. None of this requires working for a corporation or even another person. The only thing I see standing between who we are and who are being and have become is trust.

I think that our fear of freedom is really a fear of change. Most of us seem to loathe it but I think that we’re just not used to it. If your alive today you were likely born into a near fully commodified system - linear, measured, and fixed – we have been raised on predictability and repetition even if it is not our natural rhythm. Nature (of which we are apart) is our rhythm and it is wild, mutable, and ever changing. It is variety. Change is more natural to us than we know, we’re just out of joint from living in civilization. Just look at the colors of civilization to see how fixed a system it is. It's colors are the pantone color wheel a limited set of colors that cover cars to magazine ads to furniture - everything in civilization. In contrast nature hardly duplicates a color and it make new ones all of the time. Like the limited number of colors of the pantone color system, not every person or type of person will fit into civilization's limited categories. Civilization will always be a smaller system than what we are, we're the natural system, we are unlimited. Logically, this will always leave some out, some will go unemployed, some will starve, some will be voiceless. The system is not as diverse as we are. For every person not included, something important goes undone as I believe that nature makes nothing unessential. It also makes no duplicates. I consider this often as I watch more and more species go extinct. What would have been? What contribution is missed because a person has been left out? What was nature going to say about itself next? We'll never know. 

If you look closely you can see how poorly we have adapted to civilization’s monotony. The signs of it are everywhere - attention deficit, depression, hoarding, addiction, and anxiety to name a few. There is a disease name for the reaction of children born and raised in cities when are put in the forests - they have panic attacks. This disease is called failure to connect. The kids lack the neural networks to comprehend the diversity of nature. The system is expressing itself in human development. People are evolving towards artificiality. But I think it is our nature to be comfortable with change. We’ve just become systematized.

So what if we got rid of the job? What we do for the job we may do for ourselves, if we wish. Or better still, we may do whatever we wish. We may wish a new start, another ending, a fresh tomorrow. You can bet the farm that given freedom to create a new world people will make one that is more sustainable than the one we’re now trying to fix. It is “natural” for creatures to support their own lives. Even my dog knows not to shit where she eats.

I always wonder why people still show respect for the business suit or the necktie (noose). Why are those who are financially "successful" oogled over like pop stars? Wealth has no connection whatsoever to moral behavior. In capitalism wealth is the reward for greed. Ruthlessness produces monetary gain and money exploits us all by revealing our shadow. It shows or fear and belief that this world is not abundant. We don’t trust it. In other words we don’t trust ourselves as we are not other than this world. Our shadow is killing us. We cannot evolve along with it.  


The chapter I wrote for the new book by Make is titled, The Art of Unemployment. In it I talk about the ways in which Mikey and I have found to live a decommodified life during this time in which the whole world is for sale. I do promise to write a review of the rest of the book as I had meant to when I sat down. Tomorrow...   - Wendy 

20141226

Dying Hurts Living Hurts - Why I Run

This month a variety of situations prompted me to reflect on why I run. There were two injuries - one to my foot after falling down a mountain, and this week my hip went wonky leaving me laid up and limping. When my physical therapist broke up with me the other day, afraid of the liability of my running 31 miles on a weird hip, I got to thinking about the ways in which the world had reacted to my choice to run far and the ways I've responded.

Like most people my body has quirks - I have two herniated discs in my neck and a deformed hip that I had surgery on as a kid that was followed by 2 years in a body cast, and two double hernia surgeries. Since I started running (13 months and 650 miles ago) just about every part of my body has expressed itself to me through pain - my calves hurt, arches, IT band, lower back, hip, pelvis, neck, you name it. It would be easy to interpret what the pain is saying this way, "get off your hip, lay down, rest, don't do anything strenuous and stop running!" It would be easy to find doctors to say these same things. But I am aware that there are other ways to interpret pain, after all pain is a language, our language with our bodies. When my arches, sacrum, IT band and hip hurt I interpret the pain this way, "Hey! We never did this before!!" It is true, I never ran 15 miles before. Did I really expect that after years of lazying about my body would run 15 miles without a glitch?

If if were to choose the story of, "I have a bad hip so I'd better get off it," than in no time my hip will atrophy and eventually it will demand a cane it will be real easy to find a doctor ready to give me one. Many have already offered them to me along with a hip replacement. Recently I got a new MRI and Xray that showed that running had built enough muscle around my hip that it is now being held up by that muscle, thus no bones rub. This came in spite of warnings not to run on it. Perhaps we get the answer we seek? And this is my point. Just look at the number of people zipping around supermarkets in electric chairs. How many do you think need them? What's will atrophy as a result of that choice?


I had to do some real soul searching this week when my hip hurt too much to walk on. I had to choose again. As it begins to feel better today and I see that I'll get through this episode I am happy that I interpreted the pain I felt as my hip waking up, learning, struggling, and then getting stronger. This process hurts. But dying hurts too and I imagine that dying hurts extra when we die from deterioration and decay, from a state of atrophy rather than vitality.

Since I began to run my resting heart rate dropped significantly. People walking next to me alway seem to be gasping while I breathe with ease through my nose. I rarely tire. Symptoms of all variety: fibromyalgia, fatigue and lethargy, hormonal wonkiness and papering skin went away along with excess body weight and signs of premature aging. Mikey and I enjoy the time we spend using our arsenal of massage tools and electric zappers to figure out how to help one another rebound from continuous running "injuries (can't we think of another word for this?)," I think that our culture has skewed in the direction of decay. The pill, surgeon and wheel chair are too easy to reach for. We are too rest ready. I wonder about the impact of living in a capitalist system in which sick people are a billing cycle to the industry of medicine, while healthy people are useless to it. Looked at this way, healthy people don't do their part to grow the economy. This to me is a wake up call to ignite common sense. Our bodies are meant to be used. Pain is not "bad," it is perfect, it is as right as rain.

The Sufis say that suffering is the denial of pain. They also say, "die before you die," referring to the death of the ego that allows for true sight. I'm going to add a slogan of my own, "die well."

Images: an arsenal of massagers and props for hurting muscles, an x-ray of wendy's wonky hip from 2001





Goat Racing and Ultra Running

13 miles with some goats and 50mph winds. Queeny the black goat with the bell bumped me in the butt for not going fast enough. This caused me to red line taking my heart rate to 180bpm. So much for a PR today.

I have been running with goats for nearly two years now. This weeks run started getting more competitive. Queeny (the black one) who has long been the leader of the goats is used to being in front of the others.

I had been working on besting my half marathon record by a full fifteen minutes early this week when I came across goats. They immediately got in line behind me and Queeny started head-bunting my butt. I let her run ahead and noticed she was zig zagging to block me from getting in front. Eventually I passed her, but it was too fast a pace for me to maintain. We made a silent agreement to run side by side together and that seemed to work out the best. I still have to keep a eye on her to make sure she does not try to eat my shorts.

13 miles with some goats and 50mph winds. Queeny the black goat with the bell bumped me in the butt for not going fast enough. This caused me to red line taking my heart rate to 180bpm. So much for a PR today.

13 miles with some goats and 50mph winds. Queeny the black goat with the bell bumped me in the butt for not going fast enough. This caused me to red line taking my heart rate to 180bpm. So much for a PR today.

20141225

Voila!

The new mural is complete but for a few touch ups. It has two components: a sun with a gold center that radiates out from the building's front corner giving the piece dimension and vines that have grown as a result of the radiant sun. They host humming birds, butterflies and koi fish all done as stencils. The piece is half aerosol and half brush work done in exterior house paint. I'm pleased : ) I hope the town's residents like it.







20141224

Bullseye on Broadway








My buddy Garrison Buxton came through town this week. To celebrate I secured a wall for a new mural. The building is our local yoga studio which also hosts all variety of body arts, a natural health clinic, and educational events. It is a real community space. I let the community know about the mural and invited everyone to join in on its making. Over the past two days many came by to visit, provide treats, deliver pizza, cheer lead and of course paint. Kids and grown up's alike threw down come color on what will surely be a big and bright addition to Broadway. Local muralist Mary Kinninger Walker put in some serious time in spite of her being in the middle of another mural project and muralist Jia Apple supplied paint, ladders and love! Thanks to all including Sid Bryan and Wendy Sager Evanson for the paint and lovely space.

I'll post a full finished shot after some final touches tomorrow.

Occupy the Road Occupies a Parking Lot in Town

The sight of this bus reminded me of the many odd vehicles that pass through town. After all New Mexico is a place where people live out of all sorts of homes with wheels. I was particularly happy to see this one, it reminded me that the Occupy Movement is still alive.

A New Mexico - Moment You Are Blessed

A differences between New Mexico and many other places is that our connection to land is not yet forgotten here. Just yesterday I attended a blessing over a piece of land that my friends purchased and transformed into an retreat space for creative folks traveling through town. To set the bit of land in motion a small group gathered for a thoughtful ceremony led by a woman versed in native traditions. We took the time to consider how humans have tread on the land, and what we've taken from it, and then welcomed in the new. It was lovely. Imagine if building developers took the time to do this simple thing. The action may not change the world but it does put a bumper in place, a reminder that our movements have consequences.

20141214

Running Around Turtleback Mountain

30 mile run around Turtle Mountain. I believe I am the first person to run the entire distance.

Earlier this week I accomplished my goal of circumnavigating Turtleback Mountain on foot. The trip was a total of thirty miles and took me just under six hours to run. It is bittersweet to complete this task. I immediately registered for a 100k race (62 miles) in Arizona this Valentines Day. Wendy has signed up for a 50k section of the race (31 miles).  I'm also planning on incorporating new routes around Turtle Mountain as part of my regular trail runs. I appreciate all the positive support from our local community. Special thanks to Kyle & Jeannie for riding around on their fat tire bikes the same day and helping me plan the route.

30 mile run around Turtle Mountain. I believe I am the first person to run the entire distance.

Turtle Mountain 30 Mile loop map

20141212

The Common Sense Died in Phoenix

In 2001 I drove 11,000 miles of American road in my Honda hoping to learn something about myself and this world. City after city I saw what is now commonplace, the commodification of culture and place, a homogenization process that left Boston, Boulder and Houston looking remarkably alike.

Last week I popped into the Phoenix Scottsdale area and experienced the maturation of this process, an entire city built after the invention of the strip mall. Few things existed outside of one. The city boundary marks the start of a world that requires unusual behavior and odd senses, acculturated knowledge with no root in wisdom. Not nature made it requires knowledge that is learned, mimicked, taught, and never intuited as it contains no life. the man made city sprawl is entirely dependent on humanity: landscapers, builders of all variety, cashiers, cops, accountants, hairdressers etc., ad infinitum, busy themselves to support the prop.

Luckily I was staying with lovely people, good friends who showed me some gems, things to enjoy while in the maze like the campus swimming pool. We enjoyed a lovely hike on a little mountain that touched the city's edge. But for my sensitive consciousness this city was tough to bear. I experienced genuine shock every day, like when I found a store in a mall called Its Sugar. The sign may as well have read "Get Cancer Here." I found a shop that proudly boasted it's sole purpose, to develop your image. You can be a brand.

So why is all this a problem? Live and let live, right? Simple. When we hitch ourselves to what is not real we miss the real and even destroy it along with ourselves. What is real is what is living. You can notice the real because it needs no prop to hold it up like the mall with its hundreds of workers making sure the lights go on, the water drains, and the gas heaters ignite. The cost for the prop, be it mall-sized or city-scale, is life itself. Built out of the real, made from what had been self generating until we threw it out of balance by way of our pillaging, the prop is flimsy. It can't support us. We support it. It has a nature of depletion and a rhythm of pillaging. The real has a nature of nourishment and a rhythm of savoring. Hint hint. Once lost in the artificial, common sense wilts and goes away and people do strange things. For example, when the prop causes harm: cancer, diabetes, depression and the like, rather than change the prop, we make pills to help ourselves adapt to it, a behavior that indicates that the common sense is gone.

Remarkably this entire stunt is also the prison of it's inhabitants who work their lives away to hold it up even though the prop does not belong to them. It belongs to 1% of the population who hardly participate in it. The workers return the money they earn working for the prop by buying the goods they need from the prop, things that had been free in their natural form, before they were contorted into products at the cost of life.

What to do? As I type this I know that Dubai is working on the largest air conditioned mall in the world and China is gearing up to produce even more smog so that every household can have its share of cheap consumer goods. But still there is something to do. We can reconnect to what is real and connect back to common sense. It is our only guide, the only sense that can map a way out, our tap root. Separate from life we are marooned and we will die. We're dying now. Connected to life and we are the recipients of all of life's knowledge, bounty, and support. We thrive. There is still time to choose, maybe.

It is time for radical measures. Quit the job that asks you to compromise what you know to be right. Better yet, refuse to work at all. Take your life back and give your time finding an authentic way to contribute to something that is a match for your view of this world. Say no to what sucks and say it loud. There is so much that sucks! See where radical decisions lead you. You don't know where you'll end up if you've never tried them out. You may be surprised. Trust something larger than the mall. Trust life. Do whatever it takes. What you need to do is probably something no one has done yet as few things that have been done have worked. The scale of the next important change will be individual as well as large. Prepare to stand by what you do. Support everyone who seems to be doing the same. Find them. Find your common ground. Find your common sense. Oh yeah and have fun. Purpose certainly beats working in a cubicle.